January 26, 2015 10:20 UTC

As It Is

Space Flights Can Harm Astronauts' Health

Short trips into space can weaken the body’s natural defenses for fighting disease.

Mission specialist  performs checks of a cell culture module aboard the US space shuttle.
Mission specialist performs checks of a cell culture module aboard the US space shuttle.

As It Is May 2 2013i
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X


Hello, again.  I’m Jim Tedder in Washington.  Thank you for spending some time with VOA.  Today, we have two stories from Africa.  There is disturbing news about migrants in the Horn of Africa.  Then we hear from Burundi, where press freedom seems to be under attack.  But first, new dangers have been discovered for those who choose to face the “final frontier.”
 
United States Army researchers say even short trips into space can weaken the body’s natural defenses for fighting disease. The researchers found that this can increase the risk of serious infection.
 
The findings come from researchers at Fort Detrick in the state of Maryland. They studied information from a medical experiment performed on the final flight of the space shuttle Atlantis
.
The experiment was designed to show how the human immune system reacts to stress and disease in the microgravity conditions of Earth orbit. Microgravity is a nearly weightless condition in which there is very little gravity.

The experiment involved living human cells. They were placed in a clean, temperature-controlled container. The experiment was easy for astronauts traveling on the shuttle Atlantis. All they had to do was push a button to infect the cells with a common bacterial toxin.
 
The container was in space for two weeks. Researchers with the Army Medical Command have spent the past two years studying the information it provided. They compared those findings with information from a similar experiment done on Earth at the same time, under normal gravity conditions.
 
Marti Jett directs the Integrative Systems Biology Program at the Medical Command. She says the cells were so busy dealing with microgravity that they could hardly fight against infections.
 
“We saw a rather similar thing there that these young men were so stressed from reduced sleep, their heavy exercise, their activities that their immune cells simply did not respond very well.”
                                                    
The research on the human immune response in microgravity was reported at the Experimental Biology 2013 conference in Boston, Massachusetts.
 
Humanitarian agencies say thousands of migrants from the Horn of Africa are living in terrible conditions along the Yemeni-Saudi Arabian border.  Many have been robbed and tortured by criminals.

Migrant workers from Africa below the Sahara Desert often believe that they can find jobs in Saudi Arabia.  But getting there can mean traveling to and through Yemen, where they become targets of smugglers and people who deal in human traffic.  Caty Weaver takes the story from there.
 
The routes to Yemen include long and dangerous boat trips from Somalia over the Gulf of Aden – and the much shorter trip from Djibouti across the Red Sea.  But there the people also are threatened by smugglers, who may rob or even kill them.
 
The International Organization for Migration – the IOM -- estimates that there are at least 25,000 migrants along the Yemen-Saudi border. Nicoletta Giordano is chief of mission in Yemen for the IOM.  She described the groups who are making the trip to the border.
 
“The majority are Ethiopian migrants, who undertake this really quite dangerous journey.  There’s also a number of refugees who come across.  They’re mostly Somalis, who are recognized as refugees automatically here in Yemen because Yemen is a signatory to the refugee convention.  But three-quarters of the flows coming across from the Horn of Africa are indeed Ethiopian migrants.”
 
Yemen does not recognize the Ethiopians as refugees.  Here again is Ms.Giordono:
 
“They find themselves destitute and quite exhausted by the journey by the time they get to the border with Saudi.  And that’s where they fall prey smugglers and traffickers with respect to the final leg of the journey over to Saudi Arabia.”
 
Some are held in camps by the smugglers.  Recently, Yemeni forces rescued almost 2000 migrants being held against their will. But even after they gain freedom there is little assistance available for the migrants. Aid agencies say their finances are low.  The IOM is appealing for 1.2 million dollars to help Yemen provide shelter, food and health care. I’m Caty Weaver.
 
Reporters in the African nation of Burundi are opposing a bill that they believe will limit press freedoms. Rights groups have been urging Burundi’s president to reject the measure, as Kelly Jean Kelly reports.
 
Earlier this month, Burundi’s senate approved a media bill that would force reporters to identify sources. Reporters would be required to say who supplied the information used in their stories. The bill also would bar the press from reporting on issues like public security, defense and the economy.  Reporters and news agencies that violate the law could be required to pay thousands of dollars in fines.
Bob Rugurika is editor-in-chief of Radio Publique Africaine in Burundi. He told VOA reporter Gabe Joselow the proposed restrictions are unacceptable.
 
“There are many, many restrictions, he says. The law prevents us from working on news about security, the economy, the currency - imagine that.”
                        
Rights groups including The Committee to Protect Journalists and Amnesty International have urged President Pierre Nkurunziza to reject the bill. A large majority of members in both the national assembly and the senate voted for the measure. The ruling party has controlled both houses of parliament since the opposition boycotted elections in 2010. Lawmakers said the bill would protect Burundi’s citizens and leaders.
                    
Burundi's government has a recent history of being firm with reporters. Police detained Mr. Rugurika several times over the past few years. In 2011 he was questioned for 10 hours after a broadcast report suggested that state security forces were responsible for killing 40 people.
 
In March, officials released reporter Hassan Ruvakuki. He was arrested in 2011 on terrorism charges after he met with rebels in Tanzania. The reporter said he was only doing his job at the time. The charges were reduced during his appeal. I’m Kelly Jean Kelly.
 
And I’m Jim Tedder in Washington.  Thank you for spending some time with us on this Thursday, the second day of May.  On this date in 1903, America’s “Baby Doctor” Benjamin Spock was born in New Haven, Connecticut.  His famous book on baby and child care sold over 30 million copies. 
 
Also on this date in 1946, Lesley Gore was born.  At the age of 16 she recorded the rock and roll hit.  VOA world news follows at the beginning of each hour.
This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Angles Xu from: China
05/04/2013 8:43 AM
its better that all articles reading time limites within 5 minutes,


by: Noor Mohammad from: Afghanistan
05/04/2013 4:40 AM
this is very good English language program for learning English I hope thoes guys that they have some problems in listening they should follow it because it can help them.
Thanks alot.


by: Edgar Guariguata Gil from: Venezuela
05/02/2013 12:26 AM
the new look of this section is better than former one, it is easy read and listen at the same time, congratulation. Edgar

Learn with The News

  • Video Experts Decide Ethiopia Has Best Coffee

    What makes Ethiopian coffee the best? International coffee experts travel the world to find the best tasting cup of coffee, however they keep returning to Ethiopia. The country has an export revenue of more than $840 million a year from coffee to 120 countries. More

  • Thailand Fishing Industry

    Audio Labor Groups Criticize Abuses in Thai Fishing Industry

    Thailand is the third largest exporter of fish and fishery products in the world. Those exports are worth more than eight billion dollars. But the Thai fishing industry is under attack because of reports of labor rights abuses and human trafficking. The government is taking steps to stop the abuses. More

  • Audio Vietnamese Officials Worried about Political Blog

    The blog publishes documents and photographs, and has linked suspected corruption to cabinet members and their relatives; the blog has been visited almost 14 million times since it was launched a month ago. People’s Daily has suggested that the information is false. More

  • korea2

    Video S. Korean Businesses Want to Ease Trade Restriction with North

    Business leaders in South Korea are urging the government to ease trade restrictions with North Korea. They believe that expanding trade will help their businesses and contribute to long-term peace and security on the Korean peninsula. South Korea cut many economic ties with the North in 2010. More

  • Should Schools in US Recognize Muslim Holidays

    Video Should Schools in US Recognize Muslim Holidays?

    Some religious minorities in America are demanding that schools close on their religious holidays. They ask, if Christian and Jewish holy days are recognized, shouldn’t those of other faiths also be observed? The issue is being debated in Maryland, near Washington, DC. More

Featured Stories

  • Obama

    Audio Has Obama Set the Message for the 2016 Campaign?

    “I have no more campaigns to run … I know because I won both of them.” Mr. Obama cannot run for president again – U.S. presidents may serve only two terms. But some observers say his most recent State of the Union message on the middle class sounded like a campaign speech. More

  • American Sniper

    Video With Oscar Nomination, 'American Sniper' Stirs Debate

    The movie is based on a book by Navy SEAL Chris Kyle. He is considered the deadliest marksman in the history of the United States military. The film explores how war can affect a soldier's mental and emotional health and stirs a debate on social media over its message. More

  • Designers work at computer stations at TechShop in the South of Market neighborhood in San Francisco, California, April 24, 2014

    Video TechShop Puts High-Tech Dreams Within Reach

    Members of TechShop use high-tech equipment to develop and produce ideas they have for inventions. Members are able to use costly machines including 3D modeling tools and laser cutters. Membership costs for TechShop start at just over $100 per month. | Science in the News More

  • .

    Video Rare, Important Art Is Now Only a Click Away

    The public has never seen the majority of works in the Smithsonian Institution's National Museums of Asian Art. Now they can be downloaded from the Internet -- in many cases for free. The Freer and Sackler Galleries worked for over 15 years to make digital copies of more than 40,000 objects. More

  • Video Light Pollution. How Much Light is Too Much?

    Light pollution can affect our ability to see the night stars. It can also hurt our health and the planet. But light is needed to make our cities safe. How can we find a balance? In cities, artificial light comes from street lamps, buildings, signs and cars and blocks out stars in the sky. More

Practice Your Writing

Confessions of an English Learner blog
Confessions of an English Learner blog

 

 

 

Tell us About Our Programs